Merit Pay for Teachers: A Review Page: 4
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such a way that each perceived increment in a job demand factor will lead to
increased pay. There is a need for a comprehensive and continuous system of job
(F) Since an individual's pay satisfaction is influenced by what peers earn, salary sur-
veys should be regularly conducted to determine what wage rate is required in a
certain job if a high level of pay satisfaction is to be determined (Lawler, pp.
Approaches to Merit Pay
A number of different incentive plans have been attempted with varying degrees of suc-
cess. Table I outlines salary reward and bonus approaches under three types of plans with
three measures of performance. The ratings range from + 3 to -3, with + 3 indicating that the
plan has worked very well in terms of the criteria, while a -3 indicates that the plan has not
Data presented on this table show that individual plans are rated highest, while group
plans are rated second, and organization plans are rated lowest. This reflects the fact that in
group and organization plans the individual's pay is not a direct function of personal effort.
Bonus plans are generally rated higher than other pay-raise and salary-increase plans in
that they reflect recent performance. Objective measures of performance rate higher than
subjective ones (i.e., sales volume rates higher than a supervisor's evaluation).
No plan devised to date provides a panacea for motivational problems. One possible
approach would be to divide a person's pay into three components. One part would evaluate
the job held by the employee, and everyone who holds a similar position would get the
same amount. A second part of the pay package would be determined by seniority and
cost-of-living factors; everyone would get this part and the amount would be automatically
adjusted each year. The third part of the plan would not be automatic; it would be individu-
alized so that the amount paid would be based upon each person's performance during the
immediately preceding period. It could vary from year to year depending upon an individu-
al's performance. Good performers, for example, could find that this part of their pay is at
least as great as the other two parts combined. Part three pay would be highly variable in
that if a person's performance deteriorated, his or her pay would be decreased.
Merit Pay for Teachers-The Concerns
A major purpose of all merit pay plans is to increase the productivity of workers. When
this concept is applied to the teaching profession, the specific goal is to reward teachers
whose students demonstrate subject-matter mastery.
While it would be difficult to oppose increased productivity as a goal, the issue is far
more complex than the general public believes. "How can we improve instruction in the
classroom?" The answer to this question would probably generate multiple courses of ac-
tion in addition to the merit pay concept. The door must be left open, however, to various
possible solutions to the question of improving student achievement.
Some basic questions related to improving instruction may include the following:
(1) Since 94 to 96 percent of all children of school age are in school today, is it realistic
to expect achievement levels equal to those at the time when considerably fewer
children were in school?
(2) Is it reasonable to assume that the laws of supply and demand operate in attracting
young people into teacher education?
(3) What is the responsibility of the student in the teaching-learning process? Can we
really hold teachers responsible for a student's learning?
(4) What are the responsibilities of parents in the learning process of their children?
(5) Is it possible to achieve a consensus on the goals of education? Are we going to have
to learn to live with multiple educational goals?
(6) Is it reasonable to assume that local communities will fund schools at a level com-
mensurate with parental expectations?
Here’s what’s next.
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Muro, James F. Merit Pay for Teachers: A Review, pamphlet, December 1983; [Denton, Texas]. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc83299/m1/6/: accessed July 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Education.